A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

Erratic Actions Symptomatic of a Struggling CIX, pp. 1-7

Shortly after the September 14 members' meeting, John Rugo was elevated to the position of CIX Association President and Board Chairman. We reported this in the COOK Report on October 27, adding that Rugo had a mandate for reform and that, if he was unable to implement reform, he'd likely leave the CIX.

Unfortunately Rugo appears to have failed. BBN did not withdraw from the CIX but on November 1, when the CIX announced its intention to procede with filtering on 11/15/94, Rugo resigned his seat on the Board. The Board, which had never informed the membership of his appointment as President and Chair, chose not to inform it of his resignation. Rugo himself informed the CIX membership on November 18.

On November 19 the Board released to the membership the minutes of its November 10 meeting (and reported here for the first time) where it noted Rugo's resignation. The minutes also announced that filtering would not begin on the 15th after all. They observed that "Agreement was reached with Vixie Enterprises to assume software management of the CIX router [on December 1] where he will implement the filtering. The contract with Vixie Enterprises is month-by-month to provide the CIX optimal management flexibility when securing a contract via competitive procurement. Agreed 15 business days notice will be given to an affected party prior to activation of filtering (Suggestion that connected service providers provide AS numbers of all attached networks and note those who are customers)."

Thus Paul Vixie has apparently agreed to replace PSI as traffic cop for the router. It is still not clear whether filtering might actually be imposed on CIX members who might be aggregating class c addresses of non member resellers under their own class b addresses. If this is not done it would appear that the only non CIX members who will be filtered are those turned into Vixie by their own service providers. Thus the CIX would appear to be committed to a policy that it has no means of enforcing equitably.

Also on the 19th, (and reported here for the first time) Bob Collet, the current Association President and Board Chair, announced to the membership that the CIX was now pledged to re-inventing its mission. Collet described a range of issues facing the industry and then said "Accordingly, our organization should be at the vanguard of these changes and position the membership to derive maximum economic benefit. Therefore, the Board is forming a Task Force to reinvent the CIX mission and develop a corresponding strategic plan.

The task force will consist of the Board and 10 volunteers from the membership. Volunteers are solicited and inquiries should be directed to Lou Scanlan ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). Participants should expect to physically attend three meetings: at Internet World, Comnet and Interop Europe. The plan is to provide to the membership a draft plan in March. As a starting point for this endeavor, the Board has developed a draft mission statement and strawman strategic plan." [End Collet statement.] This plan would be presented to the task force to work with.

The meeting of November 10th had decided both on the further postpone of filtering via Vixie enterprises and the reform plan. Unfortunately CIX members found out about neither until after Collet announced on com-priv on November 16 that filtering would be delayed because it was important that the CIX do it correctly. So here we had an organization in trouble with its membership for being non responsive to their needs continuing to inform the membership well after information about its actions became public knowledge.

Our article goes on to examine the relationship of CIX members to each other and to the rest of the market. It reaches the conclusion that what we are seeing is not the big players try to raise barriers to entry in the market place but rather the middle sized players, representing a majority on the CIX Board, trying to defend their interests against a market squeeze being placed on them. We believe that those in the middle suddenly saw the CIX as their only defense against the squeeze being engineered by the large IXCs from above and the small new providers being enabled by them from below. Perhaps the CIX could be made to play traffic cop? The middle could defend itself from this onslaught by insisting that everyone had to join the CIX. To put teeth its defensive argument the board announced a new policy that it - acting as the CIX - would now enforce routing and would hunt out violators of its decree. Among the violators would be many of those small providers that Sprint and ANS, and soon MCI were connecting to the net.

When the new policy was announced in mid July fear of its disruptive potential had perhaps some grounding in reality. By late November, however, it seemed completely out of touch. The critical question for smaller players was the ability to continue to resell and to be able to get their packets routed to the rest of the net at acceptable cost. Infrastructure for acheiving both of these ends is now available. Not only were the NAPs soon ready to come on line, but NET99 was formed and begining to put together MAE-East like interchanges which would perform the same functions as the CIX router. A MAE-West was ready to be built and plans were afoot to resell NAP access to smaller networks at affordable rates. The CIX router as the central point for the exchange of commercial traffic in the Internet was dead. And even as the Board let the contract to Vixie for filtering it tacitly acknowledged this fact by announcing that the router would be taken out of service on Aug. 31, 1995.

There is a serious need for an Internet trade association that will function as a trade association and will promote settlement- free multi-lateral peering rather than act as a routing cop. What is in doubt is whether the current CIX will be able to perform that role.


REPORT FROM GOLITSYNO, PP. 8-11.

The NATO sponsored conference in Golitsyno just outside Moscow brought all the players in the Russian Internet together for the first time. What is uncertain is the potential for serious cooperation between them and for uniting the two halves of a broken Moscow backbone.

RUSSIAN INTERNET PART 4, PP. 16-22

We present the 4th and final installment of our June report on the Russian internet. It surveys more users and concludes with an analysis of the policy issues raised by the International Science Foundation's involvement.

WIRELESS AS INTERNET ON RAMP - pp.12-15

We examine Teatherless Access's approach and present a conclusion that specualtes on the further evolution of the market niches of TA and Metricom.

THE LITTLE GARDEN, P. 1, 11

Tom Jennings has for two years been at the focal point of a remarkable success story in building a major low cost service provider in California. Part 1 of a 2 part interview.